Frito-Lay has decided to increase the number of Cheeto dust variants in the US with the expanded distribution of the Chile & Cheese Cheetos Bolitas. According to the internet, these cheesy spheres were once only available in Mexico but are now making their US debut.
Cheetos Bolitas smell like hot sauce and cheddar straight out of the bag. The burnt red color and smoky chile aroma made me think these might be pretty spicy, but they were definitely in the mild heat index. The initial flavor is bright, like a vinegary hot sauce, and then rounds out to a light cheesy flavor. The brightness is similar to a chile limon-type seasoning but not quite so citrusy. It’s definitely less heavy on the pallet than a cheese-only flavor. I think this also makes them not as cheesy as US Cheetos products.
What surprised me most was the distinct corn meal flavor from the base puff. The corn flavor comes through strong and leaves a lasting corn meal aftertaste. It’s pleasant but definitely different compared to some of the US versions of Cheetos products in their varied formats. The Bolitas are light and airy but have that fried oil exterior shell that clings to cheese powder and seasonings so well.
Like any Cheetos product, though, these definitely cover your fingers in a tasty Cheeto dust with the same vinegar brightness and cheese flavor as the Bolitas. Yum. Overall I thought these were tasty and very snackable. I think it’s fantastic that we’re starting to see some expanded distribution of international flavors as innovations from Frito-Lay. Does this mean we might also see the return of All Dressed Ruffles in the States again? I’m All for it!
Purchased Price: $3.99 Size: 6 oz bag Purchased at: Woodman’s Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 32 pieces) 170 Calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
After polling the general public for over half a decade and creating almost every flavor iteration imaginable, Frito-Lay seems to have decided to start leaning on its heavy hitters. Last year’s inter-brand crossovers brought us Doritos, Cheetos, and Funyuns flavored potato chips. This year, they’ve come back, but they also brought along the new Lay’s Kettle Cooked Fritos Chili Cheese Flavored Potato Chips. What a mouthful, literally and figuratively.
So how are they?
They’re very accurate. One of the fun parts of these flavor extensions is that because they’re all in the same brand “family,” we get the actual seasoning blends but on a different chip base. Having the EXACT same seasoning is part of the enjoyment.
The cheese flavor is apparent right away and not too overwhelming. The chili seasoning and cumin flavors come up quickly, especially when munching on over-seasoned chips. Before long, I got that feeling in the back of my throat as if I’d just done the cinnamon challenge but grabbed the wrong spice jar, which ended up being smoky chili powder.
It’s possible the corn chip sweetness balances this seasoning better than kettle chips because these get pretty salty pretty fast. It’s almost to the point that they’re a self-regulated serving size kind of snack. But I think the super high chili flavor is an identifying characteristic of Chili Cheese Fritos, so I wasn’t bothered by this.
Also, the significant crunchiness of a kettle chip was the right pairing for such a potent seasoning blend. I think the Kettle Cooked Chips are the far superior chip format among all that Frito-Lay offers, especially when trying to translate a flavor generally found on a uniquely crunchy and savory corn chip. Regular Lay’s just weren’t going to get the job done here.
Overall, I enjoyed these arguably over-seasoned chips. The chili cheese flavor on the kettle chip base is strong but recognizable. I wouldn’t be mad if they stick around for a while, and they also seem like a good fit for tailgates.
Purchased Price: $3.79 Size: 8 oz bag Purchased at: Mariano’s Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 15 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
In a seemingly perfect brand partnership, Pringles has teamed up with the folks over at First We Feast’s Hot Ones to create two new Pringles Scorchin’ flavors — Los Calientes Rojo and Los Calientes Verde.
If you didn’t already know, Hot Ones is a YouTube talk show where Sean Evans, the most mild-mannered host to ever exist, interviews celebrities while simultaneously taking them through 10 rounds of hot wings coated in increasingly hot hot sauce. The output is a fantastic display of human panic as everyone from Brian Cranston to Gordon Ramsay attempt to keep a fraction of calm while ingesting what is essentially liquified fire on presumably cold chicken wings. I’m a fan. The show has been running for 18 seasons and has its own hot sauce line, and the seasonings on these crisps are based on two of those sauces.
How are they?
Hot. Thank God.
All kidding aside, it’s a huge pet peeve when brands tout words like “scorchin'” and partner with known legitimate hot sauces only to launch crowd-friendly products. That’s not the case here. These bad boys are kickin’.
I started with the Rojo and immediately smelled sweet roasted paprika and spice notes upon opening. The appearance of these was sort of terrifying as they’re coated on one side in a bright red seasoning powder. I dove in and immediately could taste the red sort of smoky, bright heat. These chips are HOT. They build heat across the front of your mouth and tongue and have a roasted taste. They’re fantastic. I don’t think I could eat more than five or so in one sitting, but they deliver expectations in a big way.
I opened the Verde next and was hit with a spicy green pepper aroma. These chips look like they’re going to kill me, but I could think of worse ways to go. Munching on the spooky green seasoned chips, I immediately sensed a brighter heat. These chips don’t waste any time; the heat immediately pops you in the face, and there is a strong and fantastic green pepper flavor to balance everything. They’re definitely more acidic than the Rojo, and the heat seems more back of the mouth. I think these might be the less spicy of the two, barely, and because of the great balance in pepper flavor, I think I could snack on far more of these than the Rojo version.
Anything else you need to know?
My pup caught a whiff of these and sneezed three times in a row! Obviously, I didn’t let her eat any because I’m not cruel.
These chips made my lips tingle, my eyes water, and if I had eaten more of them, I’m sure I would have broken out into a full sweat. They totally represented the Hot Ones brand and lived up to the flavor hype of the hot sauces they are based upon. It’s a huge plus when a product promises heat and brings it to the table, and I’m glad Hot Ones protects its brand image so well by executing partnerships like this one with Scorchin’ Pringles in a legitimate way. If you don’t like spice, stay far, far away from these.
Purchased Price: $1.79 each
Size: 5.5 oz cans Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 8 out of 10 (Rojo), 9 out of 10 (Verde) Nutrition Facts: (14 crisps) Rojo – 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Verde – 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
A few months ago, I reviewed a seven-flavor lineup of Little Debbie-themed ice creams exclusively available at Walmart. Despite a few instances of bare shelves, the original seven can now regularly be found at my local Wally World just in time for Miss Deborah and Hudsonville Creamery to grace us with two more line extensions: Star Crunch Ice Cream and Sparkling Strawberry Unicorn Cake Ice Cream.
I had high hopes for these two additions because they both contain a textural element (the crunchy rice puffs in Star Crunch and the candy sprinkles in the Unicorn Cakes).
The Star Crunch Ice Cream has a chocolate ribbon swirl and chocolate-coated puffed rice. There was also, I’ll call it, an adjacent swirl that was very similar to the chocolate but tasted a bit more like the center of the Star Crunch. That amalgam of cookie and caramel wasn’t super strong, and it didn’t hit me over the head with caramel flavor, but I liked that it didn’t seem like there was one single chocolate swirl. The chocolate-coated puffed rice pieces were crunchy, and the chocolate flavor was well balanced against the vanilla ice cream. The Star Crunch itself is a tricky flavor to make stand out in ice cream, but I think the puffed rice pieces helped elevate this without a doubt.
Next up was Unicorn Cakes, and, gosh, did it have several wow factors. Upon opening, WOW that looks like psychedelic chicken pox! Bright blue sprinkles were EVERYWHERE and stood out against a pink strawberry-flavored ice cream base. The candies were crunchy and super sweet, and I think the candy made the ice cream overwhelmingly sweet, but the crunch was an impressive texture variant.
Like the Zebra Cake, Swiss Roll, and Strawberry Shortcake Roll ice cream flavors, this one also had little vanilla cake pieces. I found them to be a little saturated but authentic.
The final wow factor in this ice cream was the bright blue swirl, representing the icing design of its cake counterpart. My inner child was delighted by the vibrant colors. The adult in me was instantly concerned for the rest of my day after realizing I was eating something that tasted remarkably like strawberry cotton candy made into ice cream. What a trip.
Overall, I think these two are welcome and unique additions to the Little Debbie ice cream lineup. I preferred the balance and texture of the Star Crunch, but I can see how Unicorn Cake could delight the masses the way only something with crazy colors and candy can.
Purchased Price: $2.50 each Size: One pint Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 8 out of 10 (Star Crunch), 6 out of 10 (Unicorn Cakes) Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) Star Crunch – 250 calories, 13 grams of total fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 25 grams of total sugars, 19 grams of added sugars, and 4 gram of protein.
Unicorn Cakes – 240 calories, 12 grams of total fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 23 grams of total sugars, 18 grams of added sugars, and 4 gram of protein.
There aren’t many independently-owned companies with a brand as well-known and emotionally coveted as Little Debbie. Maybe it’s the vast and varied number of snack cake, donut, and bakery items. But I think Little Debbie has managed to package up some processed snack food magic in its little boxes, and when I heard it had collaborated to create Little Debbie-themed ice creams, my Cosmic-Brownie-loving heart did a flutter.
I realize there are a lot of nostalgic ties to Little Debbie treats. People have strong opinions about their favorites. My review aims to evaluate each ice cream for its overall representation of the snack cake and the total quality as a stand-alone ice cream. I purchased as many of the accompanying snack cakes as I could find but could not track down a Honey Bun or Swiss Roll IRL. (Supply chain shortages, UGH!)
I started my journey with the Nutty Bars one and immediately noticed the foil lid with a Hudsonville Ice Cream label. In my excitement to find these, I had missed the fantastic detail that these are all truly “ice creams” and not “frozen desserts,” “light ice creams,” or “soft serves.” The first three ingredients in every variety are milk, cream, and sugar (and then many other ingredients, but still, I was delighted and hopeful).
Nutty Bars Ice Cream
The Nutty Bars variety is a peanut butter ice cream with chocolate swirls and small Nutty Bar-type inclusions. The pieces were wafer squares covered in chocolate which had a more dense texture than the Nutty Bars themselves but were still pretty representative and delivered a wafer crunch. I was smitten. The flavors were clear and balanced, and the ice cream had enough flavor and texture elements to make it enjoyable while also definitely reminding me of a Nutty Bar.
Rating: 10 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 280 Calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.
Zebra Cakes Ice Cream
Next up, I dug into the Zebra Cakes version, stopping to admire the zebra-striped lid and familiar graphics. It has a vanilla ice cream base with chocolate fudge swirls and vanilla cake pieces. The base tasted remarkably similar to the cake and frosting of the actual snack. The fudge swirl was a great addition, though I think it overrepresented the chocolate note compared to the snack cake’s decorative chocolate swirl. The pieces were more saturated than the Zebra Cake cake, which somehow made them better. This reminded me of the Christmas Tree Cakes Ice Cream, but with the welcome addition of the over-achieving chocolate swirl. Also, yeah, the only Zebra Cake I could locate was a Zebra Cakes ROLL, but the flavor, for comparison’s sake, was the same.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 220 Calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
Strawberry Shortcake Rolls Ice Cream
After the Zebra Cakes, I went for the similar Strawberry Shortcake Rolls Ice Cream. This was vanilla-based with a strawberry swirl and vanilla cake pieces. This flavor made it clear that Little Debbie was an active participant in this collaboration because the strawberry swirl tasted IDENTICAL to the strawberry cream in the snack cake version. Like, WOW. There were lots of vanilla cake inclusions, and once again, the base had a bit of that vanilla cream flavor as well. In terms of tasting like the snack cake, this one felt about as close as you could get in an ice cream form. I’m not typically a strawberry ice cream fan, but there isn’t anything I don’t like about this.
Rating: 10 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 220 Calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
Oatmeal Creme Pies Ice Cream
Having established a heightened level of expectation, I chose the Oatmeal Creme Pies one next. This flavor had a lot of pressure, as it’s one of Little Debbie’s most well-known and best-selling treats (according to the internet). The ice cream base was a nice clean vanilla, and the mix-in was marble-sized gobs of cinnamon cookie pieces that didn’t appear to have any oats. Still, they were certainly representative. My biggest qualm is that there were too few cookies since they were the only inclusion. They also tasted too heavily of cinnamon and ginger. They were delicious, yes, but they didn’t taste as close to the Oatmeal Creme Pie cookie as I thought they would. Once I found and ate the cookie pieces, I was left with too much plain vanilla ice cream.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 220 Calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
Honey Buns Ice Cream
Honey Buns Ice Cream was next, and I have to say, I was really disappointed I couldn’t find an actual Honey Bun to compare. I did find a Hostess Jumbo Honey Bun, but that’s a different brand, and I was dedicated to the accuracy! When trying this, the first words out of my mouth were, “Holy crap! How’d they do that?” This delivers on the donut flavor. The base tasted exactly like a Honey Bun (again, maybe this is the magic of shared artificial flavors, and if so, I’m ALL for it!). There were cinnamon sugar swirls and sugar-coated fried dough chunks, which were slightly CRUNCHY like an old-fashioned donut. This ice cream blew my freaking mind. I will buy this again. The cinnamon might have been a tiny bit heavy, but those donut pieces, whoa.
Rating: 10 out of 10 with enthusiasm. Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 240 Calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
Swiss Rolls Ice Cream
Heading back to the cake roll realm, I tried Swiss Rolls Ice Cream next. Again, pathetically, I couldn’t find an actual Swiss Roll to compare it with and had to go a bit on memory for this one. This featured a chocolate base which, again, tasted remarkably similar to the specific chocolate frosting found on Swiss Rolls. There were chocolate cake pieces and a white swirl to represent the sweet cream filling which had sort of a marshmallowy flavor. It might have just been my pint, but I thought the cake pieces were noticeably smaller than those in the Zebra Cake or Strawberry Shortcake varieties, and that made it hard to taste/notice them. When I did encounter some cake, it was dry and gritty. Overall, I still think this came close to representing a Swiss Roll, but as a stand-alone ice cream, the quality wasn’t as high as the others.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 210 Calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
Cosmic Brownies Ice Cream
And to round out this crossover launch, there’s Cosmic Brownies Ice Cream. Bright-colored chocolate sprinkles and gobs of chewy chocolate brownie were scattered against a background of chocolate ice cream. I honestly think the base’s flavor could have been stronger, but that might have taken it closer to the taste of Cosmic Brownie frosting. Maybe they could have also added a chocolate swirl? The brownie pieces, however, were fantastic. Chewy, chocolatey, and plentiful, the only thing wrong with them is that I think I liked them better than an actual Cosmic Brownie, and that made me feel like a traitor. The vibrant sprinkles are a little bit lost and muted when submerged in ice cream, but I was surprised that they still did deliver a candy flavor of their own. A pretty decent match with the popular treat and not at all a bad stand-alone ice cream.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 230 Calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
I was pretty blown away by this lineup. I told A LOT of friends and family to go find them. I don’t think many other brand crossover launches like this have done this well at replicating flavor profiles, and I tip my hat to the ingenuity of McKee Foods and Hudsonville Ice Cream. I was particularly impressed with the quality, especially at a $2.50 price point. As mentioned above, the only disappointment was when I occasionally realized I might like one or two of these better than their bakery counterpart. Heaven forbid.